It’s been far too long since I’ve done a show review, so please bear with me while I shake off the rust. And what better way to get back into the flow than with some fist pumping power metal?
First up was Halcyon Way, an up and coming band from Atlanta, crossing the country on their second North American tour. After breaking in with Udo, they went right back out with Saxon, so clearly these guys think they’re ready for the big time. And ready they are! If you were watching video of this show, you’d never guess they were the first opener – they played like headliners and the crowd bought every bit of it. With some ridiculously elaborate musicianship laying the groundwork for rock hard vocals, these guys are solid power metal with some definite prog undercurrents and if you don’t start hearing more about them soon, then there really is no hope for our society. It was my first real exposure to them, but hopefully I’ll be singing along the next time they come through…which will be with Fates Warning, so there’s clearly no “let up” with these guys.
Then it was over to the Pirate’s Cove for Cleveland’s own death metal masters, Soulless. Or black metal. Who knows? Who cares? These guys have been rocking Cleveland for a long damn time. Soulless is damn near the opposite of Halcyon Way, swapping beer and aggression for Halcyon Way’s polish, but they make it work for them and there’s sure no doubting their skill. They’ve thrashed longer and louder than a whole lot of younger bands and still go into every show like they’re still trying to prove themselves. If you like your thrash loud, dark, pissed off…and maybe a little drunk…these guys are for you.
Fozzy, for those who may not know, is the power metal band fronted by Chris Jericho, of WWE fame. It would be dismissive to call it a side project or a vanity project, though – he’s been doing this for over ten years and definitely takes this seriously. It’s easy to call them glam, because Jericho is the ultimate front man, but that’s dismissive as well. He’s assembled a band that can play a strong mix of power metal and straight up party rock, striking that perfect balance between serious musicianship and having fun. He still has the flair, sporting his sequined Elvis jacket for the first part of their set, but make no mistake – he’s here to rock. I’ve got to say, I was pleasantly surprised, as I went in expecting Y2J playing glam rock out of the 80s or something.
Global Warning’s female-fronted brand of power metal was up next in the Cove. Styled after the likes of Judas Priest, Global Warning puts a distinctly feminine touch on the NWOBHM but somehow does it with plenty of balls. They’re sleek and styled and know what they’re doing and dammit, you’re going to like it. They ripped through a sadly abbreviated set because Peabody’s insists on not quite staggering the bands when they have both stages going, so they wound up playing half of their set opposite Fozzy. It’s the nature of the beast, though and if there’s one thing these guys and gals know, it’s how to play like beasts. Definitely worth checking out all on their own.
Saxon. Just saying the name makes one think of massive NWOBHM riffs. With so many of the younger crowd in the house for Jericho and Fozzy, it was good to see that a whole lot of old school metalheads were on hand for Saxon as well. Have Biff and Paul really been doing this for almost 40 years?! If you don’t know Saxon, you just aren’t metal, so I don’t know what I can tell you here. They somehow manage to play like they’re been together for decades while still seemingly enjoying it like it’s their first tour. They set a standard for metal bands to live by and that many fall short of. They’re Saxon!